The Liberty Gazette
March 7, 2017Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: As the blip crosses the radar screen displaying an altitude of 21,000’, the Fort Worth air traffic controller radios to the pilot, “What kind of experimental jet is that?”
The pilot presses his mic button to reply, “It’s not a jet. It’s a turboprop.”
Controller: (assuming there must be more than one engine for the speed it is flying at 21,000’): “Oh! Well what kind of twin is it then?”
Pilot: “Well, it’s actually a single engine airplane.”
Controller: “Well, whatever kind of single prop that is, you’re overtaking a Citation Mustang jet in front of you – by more than 50 knots.”
Observers’ reactions like this one are becoming common for Mike Patey when he flies the airplane he built to go fast, both forward and skyward. Like the time he took off behind an airliner with his plane fully loaded and topped off with fuel (heavy). Mike was not only flying 60 knots faster than the jetliner, but climbing twice as fast, causing a surprised controller to scramble to keep the required distance between them.
He built his one-of-a-kind airplane to attack several world records and hopes to do so this summer, but right now he’s a bit busy.
With his identical twin brother Mark they have created nearly two dozen businesses since they were in high school; sometimes starting them individually, sometimes together. They started their first when they were sixteen years old and within a couple years employed nearly 200 people.
Each could create companies on their own but they really like working together. They say it could be luck, or that they have the brains made for business, “Or, each of us has only half a brain shared at birth as twins – I'm not sure, but the model works when we work together,” Mike grins humbly. “We are each other’s greatest fan and support system. We are both dyslexic, have some ADD characteristics, high math and mechanical IQs and are workaholics.”
Their latest project, Best Tugs, started with an idea two years ago. With several flying machines in their stables the brothers were using four different tugs to move them around. Thinking there must be a better way, they designed a tug that could do everything they wanted a tug to do. They’d build it and then maybe make a few for other people, so they thought. But now it’s all the rage. Best Tugs has quickly become one of the fastest growing ground technology companies in a niche market. In the past year they have outgrown three different facilities and expect to expand again this year. They are hustling to keep up with orders.
Find a problem, fix it, and you have a business.
Based in Spanish Fork, Utah, the Patey-built companies are real family businesses and the best “school” for Mike’s two pairs of sons and daughters and Mark’s four sons. Their children learn what it means to build a business from scratch: finance, ordering materials, foresight and planning. Strict workplace policies include no foul language, with emphasis on good morals and no laziness – everything has to be earned.
Besides the integrity instilled in their children, Mike and Mark demonstrate community service daily. As volunteer Sheriff’s deputies, the Patey brothers have for nearly a decade provided search and rescue services above the rugged Utah mountains, flying their helicopter to locate lost hikers, downed aircraft, snow mobile accident victims. They foot the bill, wear the uniforms and don’t accept pay of any sort – “It’s one of the most rewarding things we do.”
Working hard, playing hard, Mike and Mark Patey are an inspiration and we’re thankful to call them friends.